Spouses and values


I am very blessed to have a husband who is a devout Catholic. However, this has not lead to us agreeing about material goods as much as I would have hoped.

Of course, as we prep for Christmas, this particular monster has reared it’s head again, so I’m looking for advice on managing it. Here goes.

I am certainly not a person who is ready to run off to the woods and live off the land. I like my TV and internet, enjoy a good cup of chai, and consume way more than my fair share of the of the world’s resources. But in a duel effort to save dollars and instill strong values in our child (some day children, God willing), I would prefer to minimize purchases to necessities and a few, well thought out luxuries. This is a big task for me, as I was raised in a consumer culture and like to get STUFF.

On the other hand, talking with my DH about this only results in arguements. He loves to buy books, stop buy coffee shops several times a week, and eats fast food for breakfast and lunch (and dinner if I’m out of town). Just the other day, he told me he “had” to buy a nice hanger to put his coat on at work. No matter that we have dozens of extra hangers. When I asked why, he said “Because I do” and walked away. From a budget standpoint, we can usually manage this stuff, and when we stick to our budget, he cuts back for a while. But then the holidays come. And, no matter how lovely the scarf, blanket, or picture I want to make for his mother or sister, he insists on spending at least $30 (usually more like $50) on a store gift. When I suggested 3 gifts from us and one from Santa for Christmas this year for our son, he said that wouldn’t do. He remembers the whole living room full of presents and wants that for our kids too.

So what do I do here? He says he doesn’t want our children to be THING focused, but his actions and statements about gifts contradict that. How do I go about this conversation? Any good books/websites?




It sounds to me that your dh is really talking about enjoying the abundance of joy and generosity that Christmas brings, and to him that means celebrating with lots of gifts. I suggest that you make a list of things you can do as a family that won’t cost a lot, but which will fulfill his desire for color and sparkle and celebration. For example, how about a drive through a neighborhood that decorates their homes in a special way or local community celebrations you can attend or concerts, etc. Let him spend a bit on his mother and sister and son since it means so much to him, and you find some things you can do/enjoy/celebrate that are less costly but lots of fun?


Your husband does not sound unreasonsable to me. He works hard, doesn’t overspend, and can keep to a budget. I believe he has the right to make decisions on purchases of less than $100 without having a wife nitpicking IMHO. And don’t mess with ggifts for his family, show your love for him, by sharing abundantly with them.

My husband and I had similar issues … I grew up in a very affluent household with a lot of material possesions and lots of gifts for Christmas. He grew up modestly, with only a few things. The funny thing is, that I am less attached to my material possessions than he is. Since he grew up with less, he gets angry or anxious if things are lost or broken. Since I grew up with more things, I am not as attached. I can appreciate nice things, but am not emotional without them.

I believe that focusing on counting only 3 gifts for your child(ren) may have the opposite effect than the one you desire. It may actually make them more attached to material possesions, not less.

Merry Christmas! Enjoy the season, and work to make your home a haven of happy memories for your dh.


Who runs the family budget and is responsible for making the utility/bill payments each month?

If it is your husband, and he is not stressed out over it…let him worry about it.

If it is you, put it into his hands and stay out of it.

I took over handling the family finances because my husband didn’t want to be bothered with it. What I found was that he felt no responsibility for problems with the budget and I was the one getting stress migranes.

If he is the major breadwinner, he shoulf have control of the budget. Your responsibility is to let him know the amount you need for the housekeeping budget. Then if the power or phone is disconnected, you sympathise with him and say you totally support him in his decision to be generous in his gift-giving.

BTW I do NOT cook on a barbeque because I believe that all outdoor cooking is a man’s role! If the power goes off, he does the work unless he wants sandwiches.


I have pointed out that our children need to think of thse less fortunate than themselves at Christmas and that we should make a donation to a worthy cause and explain to them about the Spirit of Christmas and giving to those less fortunate than ourselves.

Taking your child to donate a present/s to a programme that gives to the under-priviledged can be very satisfying and instructional.


If he insists on getting many, many gifts for the kids at Christmas, maybe you could cut down on what they get at other times during the year. My mom came from a family where the kids just didn’t get gifts unless it was Christmas or their birthdays, and then the gifts were really special.

You might also come to an agreement on the dollar amount you both think is reasonable for kids’ Christmas presents, and then when either of you buys something, write it down on a list with the price so you can keep track. Once you know how much money you both agree to spend on your child’s Christmas (and birthday) gifts, you can budget a little toward that every month and put it aside.

Let him buy presents for his mom and sister and use the time you would have spent making them a lovely scarf to make one for yourself, or do something else you enjoy :slight_smile:

I like Della’s idea of adding activities to your Christmas family traditions such as looking at the Christmas lights or a cookie-baking day. Maybe as a family during Advent you could all go to Mass one extra time per week or do special Advent readings to help keep the spotlight on Jesus. There’s a thread in the Parenting forum about Advent/Christmas family traditions you may want to take a look at.

Since your hubby seems to enjoy shopping so much, each member of the family could pick out one new special Christmas ornament each year. I used to enjoy this when I was a kid (but now we have so many ornaments that we’re running out of room on our little tree!).


I think I have to side with the hubby on this one and even though I am a hubby, I usually take the wife’s side when issues like this come up around here because I know how jerky hubbies can be. BUT I don’t see anything immoderate about his spending based on what I have read. If what you have described is the meat of your objection, I say let it go.



My dd’s dad and I came to an agreement (I’m not big into presents b/c she doesn’t need more stuff, he is b/c he didn’t get much when he was young). We decided to take a small family trip a few days after Christmas and make a memory for our dd. We’ll have separate beds (one night she’ll sleep with me, the other with him) since we’re not married, but we’ll spend all day doing fun activities that she’ll enjoy. Yipee, this year we found tickets to NY for less than $300 for all of us. I believe in giving fond memories, so a semi-expensive family trip is a good compromise IMHO.


wait till you get the hotel bill;)

have a great time in the City though…it is great fun especially around the holidays!:thumbsup:


We’re staying on Long Island, so the hotel bill is DRAMATICALLY lower than had we planned on staying in Manhattan. Thanks for the :thumbsup: I’ve never been there during Christmastime, but since the tickets were cheap for the flight and for the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, we thought, why the heck not. I hope that the Children’s Museum is nice (we have free passes for the one in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the one on Long Island, but we’re only going to the one in Manhattan). I also receive coupons and such from a kid friendly site for Chicago, but they also do the same for New York, so I’ll be printing those coupons before we go.


The Kids Museum is Great (the one in Manhatten)…took both of my kids there and they loved it…the Christmas Show is great too (another yearly event)…also suggest Rockerfeller Center with the Tree & Ice Skating, the Zoo (central park), Oh and the shop windows on 5th they do great Christmas windows with animated figures etc.

Yeah L.I. is cheaper to stay at…but dont forget your commuting costs (train, cab etc.)


Thanks for the other suggestions. As for the commute, the hotel has a free shuttle to and from the airport as well as to and from the LIRR. I figured if we rented a car and parked everyday in Manhattan, that would run us $100/day, but taking the LIRR will be about $22/day and God gave us legs for the rest (and maybe a little bit of subway too). :wink:




My husband and I are on the same page as far as buying stuff. He grew up not getting alot and I grew up rich and getting anything I wanted. My upbringing actually turned me off from doing that with my children. I turned into a spoiled brat. I refuse to let my kids be the same way.

As for Christmas, we just had a conve last night about this. I told him I was upset with how Christmas has become so commercialized and how I feel obligated to buy people gifts just because society tells me I have too. He agreed. I told him I want nothing and he said the same thing. As for the kids, about 2 years ago I implemented the 3 gift rule. I told them that Jesus got 3 gifts so that is all you need as well. Suprisingly they didnt give me a hard time. I told them they need ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. They have all that they need to survive. I explained that all they need is food,shelter, clothes and God. All the rest are perks. Of course we all want perks:thumbsup: I think it helps that I run a homeless ministry in my church and involve them so they can see there are people less fortunate then them and that is where there focus should be.:thumbsup: Im trying to teach them to look past themselves and help the needy. Maybe that would be an approach to take.:smiley:


How about this:

Set an absolute amount with him, for his extended family’s presents, for your extended family, for each other’s present, and how much you want to spend on the kids; not per present, but a total package for each of those 4 areas, plus whatever goes to the paper person, the postal carrier, etc.

Hubby gets all the money for his family, the money for your present, and half of the money for your kids. How he spends it is his business, as long as he stays within the budget set aside for that group, even he blows the whole thing. If he has leftovers, he can do with it what he will- bank it, donate it to a charity of his choosing, etc.

You get the other half of the money for your kids, for his present, and those you have in the way of extended family. And your leftover money, if there is any, goes to whatever you feel is important.

How you each spend any money you get just for yourselves (such as a weekly allowance) should already be a given. If he chooses to sacrifice his lunch money and buy you a diamond, for example, that’s OK.


My DH is just the same. He must spend lots on his parents, not so much getting them something they want, but so they recognise the monetary value of what they get.


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